Hygiene offenders should be fined, not evicted: survey

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 August, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 August, 2003, 12:00am

Few believe that the government will be able to strictly enforce the crackdown

The government should impose heavy fines and community service orders on public housing tenants who break the hygiene rules instead of handing out eviction orders, according to a survey by a housing pressure group.

The survey was released yesterday as a last-ditch effort by the housing policy committee of the New Territories Association of Societies to delay the implementation of the demerit point system. Under the scheme, public tenants who break any of the 19 rules on hygiene offences will have penalty points deducted. If 16 points have been deducted over two years, the tenants will be subject to eviction.

However, the survey of 795 tenants of both public and private housing found that 77 per cent preferred heavy fines over eviction, while 57 per cent said community service such as volunteer cleaning work would be a more effective alternative.

Although 53 per cent agreed that public tenants who broke hygiene rules repeatedly should be evicted, only 22 per cent believed the government would be able to effectively implement the law.

In view of the survey, the association urged the Housing Authority to delay the scheme until a comprehensive consultation was carried out.

Fung Choi-yuk, a member of the association, said heavy fines would be a better punishment as they would have a greater effect on offenders. She also pointed out that volunteer community cleaning job would also shame the offenders into correcting their dirty habits.

Meanwhile, about 50 members of a pet concern group protested against the controversial scheme at the Housing Authority's headquarters in Ho Man Tin yesterday.

A spokesman for the group, Yuen King-ho, said it was unfair to punish an entire family if only one member broke the hygiene rules, and that it was wrong to ban animals in public estates.

The group has set up a 24-hour hotline on 9372 0042 for pet owners who want to discuss the issue, particularly people whose flats will be inspected by housing staff. On request, the group will send members to videotape the inspection process to avoid any abuses of power.

'We will use the tapes as evidence to lodge complaints on behalf of the pet owners if housing staff are found to have abused their power,' Mr Yuen said.